By Robert Haugh
Despite the protests from numerous BMX rider families, City staff recommended that Santa Clara keep leasing the BMX track to the Santa Clara Police Activities League (PAL).
For three decades, PAL has leased the track from the City and hired a variety of operators and volunteers.
PAL learned through a recent audit that funds were unaccounted for causing them to change operators. According to testimony from Rich Gordon, a forensic auditor, about $136,000 is unaccounted for in 2021, the one year he reviewed.
The decision to change the track operators upset a lot of parents and USA BMX, an organization that sanctions official BMX races.
USA BMX says it won’t sanction any Santa Clara events unless it operates the races or picks the operator.
Interim City Attorney James Sanchez said that would create potential legal problems for the City.
Nick Valencia, the volunteer track operator, petitioned the Council last month to agendize the issue and take the lease away from PAL.
But for the City Council to agree to change operators, it would need to terminate the PAL lease. Then, they would have to start a procurement process that will take 3-6 months to allow for competitive bids. The track and operations would be closed down during the process.
The Council voted 5-2 to note and file the Staff report, complete the audit, and urge PAL and USA BMX to work together to sanction races at the facility.
Mayor Lisa Gillmor and Councilmembers Raj Chahal, Karen Hardy, Suds Jain, Kathy Watanabe voted yes.
Councilmembers Anthony Becker and Kevin Park voted no.
According to a PAL President Mike Walke, new operators will be brought in and the track will be re-opened and in operation for 3 days a week starting May 31.
PAL will also make the following changes:
- A larger group of volunteers to oversee operations.
- PAL will pay all track expenses and operations.
- PAL will hire multiple experienced operators, not just one.
- The track will be open for licensed coaches to hold clinics.
- PAL is open to negotiating with USA BMX for sanctioned events.
- PAL is open to adding a BMX community member onto PAL exec board
- A monthly budget and accounting of expenses will be presented to the PAL board.
- PAL will open its books quarterly to the public.